Archive for the ‘Tampa Bay Lightning’ Category

By now, you’ve almost certainly heard the war of words between the Montreal Canadiens and Ottawa Senators, ignited by Eric Gryba’s open-ice check on Lars Eller in Game One of their first round series.

Brandon Prust likened the Ottawa head coach Paul MacLean to a walrus and Michel Therrien was not pleased either, pointing out a lack of respect shown in MacLean’s comments.

“(If I’m Eller), I’m really mad at player 61, whoever he is, because he passed me the puck in the middle of the rink when I wasn’t looking,” said MacLean. “That’s always been a dangerous place as far as I know. Ever since I’ve been playing this game, that’s a dangerous place to be — bad things happen.

“I think it’s a hockey play that ended up going badly for Lars Eller.”

Whether or not MacLean was unconcerned about Eller’s condition is up for debate, as he simply voiced his opinion on the sequence that left Montreal’s third-year center lying in a puddle of his own blood.

What is certain, however, is that MacLean was impudent towards Raphael Diaz and the number 61, as he did not even bother to learn the defenseman’s name. He addressed him as if he were a replicant that Harrison Ford should be hunting down in ‘Blade Runner’, rather than a hockey player.

Had MacLean known that Eller once wore No.61 on his jersey during a brief stint in St. Louis, he may have taken it further.

“I’m upset that player 61 sent a daring pass to that other individual who used to wear No.61.”

With that in mind, we creep inside the heads of some stand-out players who once bore this jersey number and uncover the thoughts that would surface in the event of being called out as Diaz was. (more…)

Zero.

As of this moment, that is how many suspensions Matt Cooke and Steve Downie have served together this season. No, it is not a typo and there should not be a one added to it. Suggesting, prior to the regular season, that neither player would be forcefully withdrawn from a game or involved in a serious incident from October to April would be classified as a pipe dream.

Lo and behold, it is now a reality. Cooke and Downie, both of whom got their Ontario Hockey League start-up with the Windsor Spitfires, toned down their physicality and adjusted their playing styles. In contrast to some of their previous on-ice choices, they couldn’t have timed this one any better. (more…)

Surprises aren’t appreciated by everyone; these people are insistent on being told if something is in the works behind their back. With the National Hockey League’s latest campaign coming upon us, it’s a chance to pour over the players who shattered their expectations—if they had some to begin with—and whose presence graced an organization. For someone to be included in this list, it had to be their career-year to date; that goes without saying.

Next, the leap in their maturation must be a significant one—we’re not exactly going to cram in individuals who raised their highest production by ten points. And the key words are the ‘regular season’, as the playoffs are not why we’re gathered here today. No disrespect is intended for Sean Bergenheim or Joel Ward, who fired all calibers of bullets round for round during the postseason.

If surprises aren’t to your liking, do not read past this point. (more…)

Athletes pride themselves on their conditioning and exercise routines, even Kyle Wellwood is starting to catch on. Growing up, Nathan Gerbe had a very intensive tactic to help him build leg strength: pushing an automobile all on his own. In his hometown of Detroit, Michigan, he’d find an empty parking lot or rural road, shift the car in neutral and push on the rear bumper.

“I never pushed it home, but on workout days I would push it around the track to try to gain strength any way I could,” Gerbe said. “I’d use whatever car was available – sometimes an SUV, sometimes a sports car.”

That commitment brought the winger to NCAA greatness, including MVP honors in the Frozen Four Tournament, a Dudley Garret Memorial Trophy in the American Hockey League which goes to the best rookie and now a permanent roster spot with the Buffalo Sabres. (more…)

Few men have enjoyed the illustrious playing career that Steve Yzerman hollowed out. Even less have shown equal brains in the front office so quickly. It’s one thing to to say you’ve played professional hockey and worked in coherence with management, it’s another to claim you’ve been extremely successful in both. Tampa Bay had a lot of changing to do in the summer of 2010, but their first order of business was drawing someone to take care of the business.

After three seasons of turmoil that saw them finish 15th, 14th, and 12th in the Eastern Conference, the club’s brass found the right man to seize control at last. While the Detroit Red Wings’ legend shuffled the deck in the off-season, his agenda in January involved two more subtle transactions to put them over the top.

First, he traded for the rights of Dwayne Roloson, an aging veteran who had playoff pedigree and fighting spirit. He ticked all of the boxes for Tampa Bay and the birth date mattered little, as he still moved well with the New York Islanders. If Roloson was a gamble, Mike Smith (.899 save percentage, 2.90 goals against average) and Dan Ellis (.889 save percentage, 2.93 goals against average) were drugged horses in the Kentucky Derby—and not the performance enhancing kind of drugged. Look at those statistics. Did either of them want the starting goaltender position? (more…)